Notepad Chinese Characters Bug in Windows 11

Published by Nyau Wai Hoe - Updated on

For those of us who use Windows, we’ve probably scratched our heads a few times when Notepad turns Chinese characters into a jumble of weird symbols. This can be a real headache, especially if you’re trying to work with documents that mix English and Chinese. Imagine downloading a text file, expecting to see clear text, but the Chinese parts look like they’re from another planet. Let’s get into why this happens with Notepad on Windows 11 and how to fix it.

Also see: Windows 11 Chinese or Japanese Characters Not Displaying Properly

Notepad Chinese Characters Bug

Notepad showing gibberish for Chinese characters

The main reason Notepad gets confused with Chinese characters is because it’s pretty old-school. It likes simple text files, the kind that use ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange). ASCII works great for English and other languages using the same letters, but Chinese? Not so much.

Notepad showing gibberish for Chinese characters

If you save a file with Chinese characters in a format Notepad doesn’t get (like UTF-8 or GBK), Notepad tries to read it with its default setting, usually ASCII. That’s when everything turns into gibberish.

Notepad also doesn’t automatically figure out what encoding a file uses. While fancier text editors can guess and adjust, Notepad’s simplicity means it doesn’t have this trick up its sleeve. This lack of auto-detection often leads to mess-ups with non-Latin characters, including Chinese.

Getting why this happens is the first step to making Chinese text look right in Notepad.

Might be useful: How to Type Chinese in Windows 11

Fixing Chinese characters bug in Notepad

Here are some ways to fix the Chinese character chaos in Notepad:

Change the font type

Try changing Notepad’s font to something like Microsoft YaHei or SimSun that knows how to deal with Chinese characters. You can do this by going to EditFont in Notepad and picking a font that supports Chinese.

Selecting Chinese font family in Windows 11 Notepad

Adjusting encoding settings

Make sure to save your text files in a format like UTF-8 or Unicode that knows how to handle Chinese characters. When saving a document in Notepad, click “Save As” and pick UTF-8 or Unicode from the Encoding dropdown menu.

Fixing Chinese characters bug in Notepad

Use a different text editor

If changing the encoding in Notepad doesn’t cut it, maybe it’s time to switch to a more advanced editor. Tools like Notepad++, Sublime Text, or Microsoft Visual Studio Code are better at handling different encodings and can automatically figure out the right one for Chinese characters.

Text editor to view Chinese characters in Windows 11

Convert file encoding

If you’re set on using Notepad, try converting the file encoding to UTF-8 with a text editor that can do that. After converting, you should be able to open the file in Notepad without any weird characters popping up.

Install language packs

Make sure your Windows 11 has the Chinese language packs installed. This might help Notepad and other apps handle Chinese characters better.

System locale settings

Changing your system locale to Chinese could also do the trick. Go to Start → Settings → Time & Language → Language & Region. Add Chinese as a preferred language and install any necessary language features.

Change Windows 11 default system language to Chinese
Learn more: How to Change Default System Language in Windows 11

Finding the right fix might take some experimenting. What works in one case may not in another, so be prepared to try a few different things.

Why does Notepad show Chinese characters?

Ever opened a text file in Notepad and found unexpected Chinese characters? Here’s why it might happen:

  1. Incorrect encoding detection: If Notepad gets the encoding wrong when opening a file, especially if the file has a unique or mixed encoding, you might see Chinese characters.Why does Notepad show Chinese characters
  2. Corrupted file data: Sometimes, files get messed up because of software glitches, transfer errors, or storage issues, which can lead to Chinese characters showing up if it affects the file’s encoding.
  3. Residual system language settings: If your system used to have Chinese language support and wasn’t switched back properly, Notepad might display Chinese characters by mistake.
  4. Compatibility issues with older files: Older text files from different language settings (like a Chinese operating system) might show Chinese characters when opened in Notepad on a system that’s not set up for it.

Understanding these reasons can help you figure out why Chinese characters appear out of the blue in Notepad. It’s usually about encoding, software, and system settings, not someone changing your text on purpose.

Related resource: How to Restore Old Legacy Notepad in Windows 11

Windows Notepad changes files into Chinese characters, why?

The whole thing where Notepad turns files into Chinese characters mostly comes down to encoding and system settings. If you set your system to English (US) for that full English Windows vibe but then save a file with special characters using ANSI encoding, things can get weird. Those special characters might turn into unreadable symbols or even look like Chinese characters.

Windows 11 Notepad changes files into Chinese characters

Notepad might show Chinese characters if the system language settings are off, or if there are issues with how the file was originally encoded. This is common with older files or files from different language systems.

As mentioned before, messed-up text files or files with unclear encoding can also make Notepad default to Chinese characters. This usually comes from file corruption, transfer hiccups, or mismatches between operating systems or software versions.

Conversion of text files ended up in corrupted Chinese text font

Sometimes when you try to change a text file from one format to another, the Chinese characters get all messed up. Here’s why and what you can do:

  1. Incorrect encoding during conversion: If the tool you’re using to convert files doesn’t handle Chinese characters’ encoding right (like UTF-8 or GBK), you’ll end up with corrupted text. Make sure the tool you use supports both the source and target file encodings.Conversion of text files ended up in corrupted Chinese text font
  2. Use reliable conversion tools: Go for tools that are known to handle different encodings well. Notepad++, for example, lets you open the original file and save it in a new format without messing up the characters.
  3. Manual encoding selection: If you can, choose the encoding yourself during conversion. Pick an encoding that supports Chinese characters, like UTF-8, from the options.
  4. Check source file encoding: Before converting, check the encoding of the original file. If it’s not compatible with Chinese characters, you might run into problems. Use a text editor that shows you the current encoding to check the file.
  5. Backup original files: Always keep a backup of the original files before you start converting. This way, if something goes wrong, you can go back to the original.

Can you open Chinese text files online?

Opening Chinese text files online is a handy option, especially when desktop apps like Notepad don’t do the job right. There are plenty of online tools that can handle different encodings, including those needed for Chinese characters. Here’s how:

  1. Google Docs: Google Docs can open and correctly show text files with Chinese characters. Just upload your file to Google Drive and open it with Google Docs. It’ll figure out the encoding on its own.Open Chinese text files online
  2. Online text editors: Sites like EditPad let you edit text online. These platforms support different encodings and can show Chinese characters correctly. Just upload your file, and the editor takes care of the rest.
  3. Encoding conversion tools: If the problem is with the encoding, try online encoding conversion tools. These let you upload your file and pick a new encoding (like UTF-8 or GB2312 for Chinese characters). After converting, you can download the file and open it with any text editor.

Just be careful with online tools, especially with private or important info. Make sure the site is safe and trustworthy to avoid any security issues.

Final thoughts

In summary, Notepad showing Chinese characters as gibberish isn’t a bug but a limitation in how it reads different text formats. We’ve gone over why this happens and offered several fixes, like tweaking Notepad’s settings, adjusting the system language in Windows 11, using other editors, or exploring online options. We also talked about avoiding problems with Chinese characters during file conversions.

While Notepad is great for simple tasks in English and similar languages, it stumbles with more complex ones like Chinese or Japanese because of its basic setup. If you’re dealing with this issue for the first time or often work with different languages, the tips shared here should help you manage Chinese text files better.

Nyau Wai Hoe
Nyau Wai Hoe is the Founder and Chief Editor of With a degree in software engineering and over 12 years of experience in the tech support industry, Nyau has established himself as an expert in the field, with a primary focus on the Microsoft Windows operating system. As a tech enthusiast, he loves exploring new technologies and leveraging them to solve real-life problems.

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